Our Family

Our Family

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Middlebury Interactive Languages

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
Middlebury Interactive Languages offers online elementary, middle, and high school courses in Spanish, French, Chinese, and German.  Their courses use authentic materials and task based learning to immerse students in both language and culture. We recently had an opportunity to use and review Elementary Spanish 1, Grades 3-5.
 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
Elementary Spanish 1 Grades 3-5 is split up into 2 semesters.  You can choose to purchase one semester at a time ($119) or buy both at once ($238.)  There is also an option to purchase the course with a teacher. Middlebury Interactive Languages are online courses.  You do not need to download anything to your computer to take the course.  They do recommend high speed internet with a minimum of 3 Mbps, but it can be used with slower speeds (more on that below.)  The courses are self paced allowing you to move at your child's pace.  Courses expire one year after your purchase date. Elementary Spanish 1 Grades 3-5 contains the following 16 units:

Unit One: The Family
Unit Two: Numbers
Unit Three: Greetings
Unit Four: Adjectives/feelings
Unit Five: Food
Unit Six: Community/professions
Unit Seven: Body
Unit Eight: Review (Units 1-7)
Unit Nine: Animals
Unit Ten: Colors
Unit Eleven: Clothes
Unit Twelve: Weather and Seasons
Unit Thirteen: School
Unit Fourteen: Calendar
Unit Fifteen: Months
Unit Sixteen: Review (Units 9-15)

Each of the units have 6 lessons except for the two review units which are split into 3 lessons, making a total of 90 lessons.  Each lesson has several interactive activities that include listening, reading, matching, and speaking.  On the left side of the screen several slides appear in a column.  The child starts at the top slide and completes the activity.  When they finish that activity, the slide turns gray and they click on the next slide until they have completed all of the slides for that day.  A calendar view shows which lesson should be done on each day and checks off the lesson when it is completed. There are quizzes and tests for each unit. The grade book shows parents how their child has done on each quiz and unit test.  
I have been using Elementary Spanish 1 with my 10 year old 4th grader.  I mentioned above that the minimum recommended internet speed is 3 Mbps. I live in the middle of nowhere and my "high speed" internet that I pay for is 1.5 Mbps but I have never achieved that speed.  I am lucky if I hit .8 Mbps on a good day.  I decided to go ahead and give Middlebury Interactive a try knowing that it probably would not work as well for me as it would for someone with the recommended speed.  The only issue we have had with the program is the videos at the beginning of the lesson.  We have to pause the video for a minute or two to allow the whole thing to load.  A minor inconvenience.  We have had no other issues at all with the program.

One of the things that I liked right from the beginning was that Anthony could use the program on his own.  All he has to do is follow the instructions and go through each section of the lesson.  The instructions do not have to be read, you can click on them and have them read to you.  I really like the teaching approach.  Rather than have the children learn lists of vocabulary words and complete endless worksheets, it has them jump right in to the language by telling them a story in Spanish and then moving on to the lessons.  In the lessons students have practice seeing, hearing, reading, and saying the words.  There is plenty of built in review opportunities.   

Anthony has really enjoyed the program.  He does not enjoy the speaking part, but it has given him good practice.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Schoolhouse Crew Review: USAopoly

 USAopoly Review
We love to play board games.  Recently we had an opportunity to use and review two wonderful games from USAopoly: Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game  and Tapple: Fast Word Fun For Everyone. 
 USAopoly Review
Tapple is a word game that is recommended for ages 8 and up.  It can be played with 2-8 players and takes 10-20 minutes to play.  To play the game, you pick a category card, say a word that fits in that category and tap the first letter of the word on the Tapple wheel before time runs out. Then you pass the wheel to the next player.  Each card has a blue/white colored side with easier categories for younger players and a red/yellow side with more advanced categories for older players. Players are eliminated if they cannot come up with an answer within before the 10 second timer goes off, name an answer that doesn't match the category, or press a letter for an unacceptable answer. Play in the category continues until one player remains.  If more than one player remains and all the letters are sued the remaining players play in an overtime round until one player remains. Continue playing until one player collects three cards and wins. Tapple comes with a Tapple wheel and 36 game cards containing 144 different categories.  You do need to provide  2 AA batteries for the timer.
USAopoly Review
Wonky: A Crazy Cubes Card Game is also recommended for ages 8 and up and can be played with two or more players.  In this game, you stack blocks in a tower according to the card you choose to play.  Each player starts with 7 cards and can choose which card they want to play.  If you choose to play a large blue block card, you place that block on the tower using one hand.  You cannot nudge any of the other blocks and the tower must stay standing for a count of three. If you should happen to knock the tower over, you must draw 3 cards and start a new tower. Besides the cards to place a block there are also cards to reverse play, pass, and draw. The first player to get rid of all of their cards without toppling over the tower is the winner. Wonky comes with 54 cards, 9 blocks in 3 different sizes and 3 different colors, and a bag to store the blocks in. 
We found our box from USAopoly when we had been gone all day and it was way past supper time.  But a package is an exciting thing so we had to open it right away.  When the children saw what was in the box, they were willing to wait for supper because they wanted to play the games right away!  The great thing about both of these games is that you can get started with them quickly.  The instructions are very simple and aside from adding the batteries to Tapple the set up was very quick and easy.  Even though the recommended ages are 8 and up, both games can be played with younger children.  I have played both games several times with my 4,6,8, and 10 year olds.  My 4 year old has needed a little help with Tapple, but my 6 year old has not had any trouble playing both games.  I have seen the children playing both games on their own and they required no help getting started or playing the games. The most important thing is that both of these games are lots of fun!    

I visited the USAopoly website when I saw them on our vendor list and I was amazed at all the really cool games they had that I had never seen before! I am keeping several in mind for Christmas gifts this year!

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Homeschool Wrap Up Week 4

This was the first week of this school year that we were up to our full schedule.  We did pretty good! We did not get everything done I wanted to.  We did not do was P.E. (I need to get that in next week!), art, and Latin, but we still got a lot accomplished!

Week 4 In Our Homeschool

Bible: We are still working on The Books of Moses Part 1.  We completed weeks 4 and 5.

Read Aloud: We read 4 chapters in our book on George Muller.  We will finish that next week and pick a new one to read.

History: We completed lessons 4,5, and 6 in Mystery of History Vol IV on The Seven Years War, The Great Awakening, and Benjamin Franklin.  They did the corresponding worksheets, made the memory cards, and did the timeline figures.  We did not do the map because oddly enough my Companion Cd with the activities on it skips from the beginning of Lesson 2 to Lesson 4 and I could not see the assignment!

Science: Nick and Alex are using Apologia Exploring Creation With Anatomy and Physiology.  We finished reading Chapter 1.  We will not be making the edible cell because we have done it before.

My Father's World Adventures: Christian, Lily, and Anthony are using My Father's World Adventures.  We are only completing the history and science.  This week we completed week one.  We did a map of the US, a map of the world, learned about Leif Erikson, and did a floating egg science experiment (we have done this one before but Lily had not.)

Math: We completed Lesson 3 in Alpha, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, and Algebra 1.

Grammar/Literature: We completed lesson 8 in Fix It! Grammar 1 and 2.  Nick is reading Puddin'head Wilson and Alex is working through a Progeny Press study guide on the book Stone Fox.

Writing: I am reviewing Writing Through Early Modern History Level One from Brookdale House.  I have Lily, Christian, and Anthony working on this review.  We read a story called Briar Rose and they completed the copywork.

Reading/Spelling: Alex did lesson 2 of Phonetic Zoo.  Anthony and Christian completed Lessons 40 and 41 of All About Reading Level 2.  Lily completed Lesson 3 of All About Reading Lesson 1.

Language: Anthony completed 2 lessons in Middlebury Interactive Elementary Spanish.

Horizon's Preschool: Emmie did two preschool lessons this week.

Other Activities This Week:

Monday: Lily and Emmie had gymnastics on Monday.
she did her own hair!

And Christian had a soccer game.

Tuesday: Nick and Alex had a soccer game.

Wednesday:  We stayed home from Kid's Club.  Maybe we will get there next week.

Thursday: Nick, Alex, and Christian all had soccer games.

Friday: Pizza and a movie with the new Cinderella.

The children are trying to soak up the last of summer and went swimming every day this week.

They also got the go-cart fixed (thank you daddy!) and had a great time riding it!

I hope you had a great week in your homeschool!

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Peek Into Our School Room

Homeschooling does not require a specific classroom space, but when we were looking for houses almost 9 years ago, this space was one of the things that set this house apart from the others we had seen (the extra bathroom was a big plus too!)  We remodeled our downstairs almost 5 years ago after we had some significant water damage and while we were at it converted the garage (which is off the classroom) into a family room.

I did not do any special cleaning or organizing to prepare for these pictures except for the normal picking up, vacuuming, and mopping.  Trying to keep it realistic :)

This space serves two purposes for us.  It is both a playroom and a school room.  The majority of the toys are kept down here with the exception of the boys' LEGOS and the girls dollhouse and dolls. When we remodeled we put in ceramic tile floors.  They are so much better then the pergot that were there before and easy to clean up paint and other kid messes.

This side is the school side.  The younger children do their afternoon school work at the table.  We also do lots of art projects and crafts there (they like to display them in the wall you may have noticed.)

I keep our school books on this shelf.  Well not all of our books.  The overflow I had to put on some shelves in the living room.  And our My Father's World Adventures I keep in a crate so it all stays together.

All of the children have a crate to keep their school stuff in.  They each have a pencil box with all of their supplies in them.

The other side of the room is where toys, puzzles, games, and the children's books are kept.

The girls enjoy drawing on the blackboard.

Having the toys in the same area always made it easy for me to keep the younger ones occupied with something while I was working with the other children.  Yes it does get loud from time to time but for the most part it works out well.  It is not always neat and tidy either, especially when the girls are making crafts or decide to get ever stuffed animal they own out, but as they leave the school area clear for us to work I don't mind.  I never wanted the younger children to feel like they were pushed aside during school time and I never wanted them to be afraid of making or doing things because theu might make a mess. I once had a comment on Facebook thanking me for being realistic when I posted a photo of one of something we had made and there were toys on the floor in the photo.  There are always toys somewhere on the floor in this house (along with laundry to be folded and dishes in the sink.)  It is part of our reality.

Just because we have a space for our school stuff, does not mean we only "do school" in this room. In the mornings it is much more comfortable for all of us to do our reading on the couch in the family room.  Nick will often go upstairs in my bedroom to do some of his work so he will not be distracted. Our living room upstairs is a nice quiet room that they will read in.  Science experiments and cooking happen in the kitchen and dining room.  And of course there are many educational experiences to be had outside!

Happy Homeschooling!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Schoolhouse Crew Review: YWAM Publishing

YWAM Publishing Review

George Muller The Guardian of Bristol's Orphans book is a 208 page paperback and is part of YWAM Publishing's Christian Heroes: Then and Now series.  This series has true stories of ordinary men and women who trusted God and accomplished extraordinary things for His kingdom.  The Guardian of Bristol's Orphans tell about the life of George Muller.  George Muller was a thief and a liar who only cared about furthering his own interests until he found himself at a Bible meeting and found himself asking God to forgive him of his sins and he became a Christian.  He thought he was meant for the mission field, but after seeing a 5 year old orphan girl caring for her brother in the streets of Bristol he decided that he was already in his mission field.  "God has given me a mission field and I will live and die in it." With barely enough food for his own family, George opened his heart and his home starting with a "Breakfast Club" of 30 orphans, growing to multiple orphan homes that over 10,000 orphans would live in.  Through it all,  George trusted God for all of their needs. 

The George Muller Unit Study Curriculum Guide is a 64 page paperback book. It is based on the book George Muller The Guardian of Bristol's Orphans.  The guide is set up so you can use it with a variety of ages varying the difficulty level of the assignments and projects for different aged children.  You can pick and choose what type of activities you would like to complete or that suit your children's learning styles. In the guide you will find:

Student Explorations: Essay writing, creative writing, hands on projects, audio/visual projects

Social Studies: reproducible maps, geography, vocabulary, critical thinking

Bible Study: Scripture memorization, devotional application, spiritual concepts

Community Links: field trip ideas, guest speakers, service projects

Related Themes to Explore: missions, current events, life skills, math

Bibliography of Related Resources: books, movies, documentaries, magazine articles

Culminating Event: project displays, cultural music, food and activities, oral presentation

I have been using the book as a read aloud for my 8,10, 11, and 13 year olds.  We read through one chapter per day.  In the Unit Study Guide we go over the chapter questions after we finish each chapter.  We also have gone over the Key Bible verses that are listed in the guide.  

The Guardian of Bristol's Orphans is an amazing story.  Before reading this, I had heard of George Muller and had an idea of what he was known for but had no idea of what an amazing man of faith he was!  His story shows us very specific and amazing ways that God answers the prayers of those who are faithful.  His story also shows how God can use anyone if we just put our faith in him.  We have all enjoyed our daily reading of this story.  It has taught the children a lot about what life was like during this time period especially for the orphan children.

I love the variety of activities in the Unit Study Guide and that it can suit a wide variety of age ranges.  That is especially helpful for families like mine that has a wide variety of ages!  We have enjoyed the discussions we have had over the comprehension questions and the Bible verses.  There are many other types of activities that allow you to choose what suits your families needs or interests.

I would recommend any of the books in the Christians Then and Now or Heroes of History series from YWAM Publishing.  We will definitely be using more of these in the future.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say visit the Crew Blog!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Homeschool Wrap Up Week 3

*this post contains affiliate links

This week was a bit more productive in our homeschool.  And we are starting to cut back on several outside activities because we have had to, but honestly we needed to.  I just can't keep up the pace right now.  We added in a few more subjects this week and hopefully will be up to a full schedule next week.

Week 3 In Our Homeschool

Bible: We completed Weeks 2 and 3 in our Bible study on the Books of Moses Part 1, not because I am in a hurry or trying to catch up but because there just isn't a whole lot of comprehension questions or activities to go with the study so It doesn't take us long to complete it at all.

Read Aloud: We are still reading through George Muller for our morning read aloud.  I also do evening read alouds before bed and read a picture book and a chapter book every night.

History: Nick and Alex got started on The Mystery of History Vol IV.  We read through the first 3 lessons and did the corresponding notebooking worksheets and mapping assignment.  I did not have the timeline ready but we will add this week's figures along with next week's.

Math: We did get back to Math U See this week.  Lesson 2 was competed in Alpha, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, and Algebra 1.

Grammar: Lesson 7 was competed in Fix It! Grammar 1 and 2.

Reading/Spelling: Lily got started on All About Reading Level 1.  She completed lessons 1 and 2.  Christian and Anthony completed Lessons  of All About Reading Lesson 2.  Alex started on the Phonetic Zoo Level B lesson 1.

Language: Anthony completed 4 lessons of Middlebury Interactive Elementary Spanish.

Other Activities This Week:

Monday: We did not make it on the zoo field trip that we planned, but since we have passes I am hoping we will be able to make it there some time soon.

Monday night Lily and Emmie had their first gymnastics class of the year.

And Christian had his first soccer game.

Tuesday: Nick and Alex had their first soccer game.

Wednesday: I had been feeling a little better and thought I would take the children to Kids Club.  It was not a good idea.  I had another mystery spell while driving but thankfully we were almost there and made it safely.  I hung out on the couch in the parlor at church and Art had to pick us up and drive us home.

Thursday: Christian, Alex, and Nick had soccer games.  I stayed home with the other three children.

Friday: We did not go to archery.  I think we will be sitting that out for awhile.  It was our first Grandview co-op of the year.  I decided to stay home, but Emmie, Lily, Christian and Anthony got to go and made some corn husk dolls while learning about the Caddo Indians.

My dad got some good news after his PET scan.  The cancer is only on his epiglottis and larynx, no place else in the body.  He will have radiation 5 days a week for 7 weeks.

I hope you had a great week in your homeschool, but if you didn't remember His mercies are new every morning!

*links to All About Learning and The Mystery of History are my affiliate links.  I only form affiliate relationships with companies whose products I actually use and can recommend!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

September Grandview Co-op

This will be our third year to have a once a month homeschool co-op at Rick Evans Grandview Prairie in Columbus Arkansas.  Here in Arkansas, part of our sales tax goes to funding our state parks.  Part of the funding goes to educational programs giving us the opportunity to learn about a variety of topics without having to pay for them.  They do programs for the general public, school groups, 4 H scouts, and any other groups that have an interest.  Our once a month co-ops started 3 years ago when a homeschool friend and I that had attended several programs that were held on the week-end for anyone who signed up missed a program we had wanted to attend on bluebirds.  When I asked about when it would be again I was told that since we were part of a homeschool group I could schedule that program or any other whenever it was convenient for us.  She also told me that if there was a specific topic that we wanted to cover that she could create a program on it if there wasn't already one.  Isn't that awesome!  I came up with the idea of our homeschool group going to Grandview once a month for some hands on educational activities.  Last year we turned it into a combined co-op doing a program in the morning, breaking for lunch and having an art class in the afternoon.  We have covered a lot of different topics, including the bluebird program that got the ball rolling, and have made some really cool projects.

This year we decided we would start out with a new series.  Rather than taking a science approach which the majority of our co-ops have done, we decided to turn to history and do a series on the Caddo Indians and cover a different aspect of their lives each month.  The first topic would be on toys.

I had to decide not to teach the art co-op this year.  There is just too much on my plate and I am trying to lower my stress level.  I had fun teaching it, but we will hopefully still get some art in at home.  I had planned on being there for the program on Caddo Indians and their toys, but it didn't work out.  A sweet friend came and took some of the children though and they had a great time!

The project was corn husk dolls.  I have to tell you that I was so excited this was the project!  I had planned on making these with the children this year and almost had ordered some kits to make them.  My friend Aneesah who does all of our programs at Grandview does such a great job coming up with the programs and the projects that we make.  I am always impressed!  We had 23 children attend the program.